The dynamic period of growth, setting the trend for future mobility

The achievements include moving toward greater mobility on the high-density network (HDN) and highly used network (HUN) as per the National Rail Plan to comply with the Indian Railway's Vision 2024.

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Passenger high speed red train with motion blur in station
Passenger high speed red train with motion blur in station
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NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): The Indian Railway is going through a dynamic period of growth, with new advancements providing world-class freight and passenger transit services. The achievements include moving toward greater mobility on the high-density network (HDN) and highly used network (HUN) as per the National Rail Plan to comply with the Indian Railway’s Vision 2024 with 100% railway electrification to meet carbon neutrality by 2030, improving capacity by integrating Automatic Block Signalling with Traffic Management systems (TMS/CTC) by raising sectional speed and increasing overall safety by eliminating manned level crossings.

Implementing technology solutions such as safety enhancements, infrastructure upgrades, train operations effectiveness, passenger experience movement, and organisational capability enhancement will be essential for Indian Railways to move closer to world-class railway operations. Allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Public Private Partnership (PPP), and Private Operations of Passenger and Freight Trains for its current asset monetisation is integral to revamping the Indian Railways infrastructure through technological improvement.

 

There are many technologies which are now changing the landscape of the Railways & Metro Projects globally. The few most prominent technologies are discussed as under: 

 

  • Cyber Security: Cybersecurity is becoming more relevant than ever. Cyber threats are increasingly targeting railway systems and operators. The primary function of cyber security is to protect the devices, systems, and services we use – both online and at work. Ticketing, freight operations, train operations, and asset management are just a few potential applications. All of these systems are vulnerable and require security. Recognised IT industry standards must establish cyber security measures. This would entail developing best practices for protecting critical infrastructure from cyber attacks, establishing an emergency response system to reduce the application’s vulnerability to such threats, and developing a policy/mechanism to ensure adequate measures. Although Indian Railway IT programmes have been created with suitable security safeguards based on these basic principles, recent worldwide cyber attacks illustrate that we can never be complacent.
    1. The digitalisation of the Ecosystem: The integration of digital technology into all elements of a business, radically changing how you operate and give value to clients, is known as digital transformation. It also necessitates firms constantly challenging the existing quo, experimenting, and modernising their operations to keep up with changing times. Coach design, signalling and traffic control, freight management, train services, personnel management, and customer management all use digital technologies. Railways and metro projects are fully embracing digitalisation in their entire system, including digital project planning, BIM engineering, digital twin models, better passenger safety, predictive maintenance, data analytics for management, and system modernisation.
    2. Contactless Travel: Pandemic made contactless travel essential for all travellers. QR codes are embedded in the new contactless tickets. The QR code is generated and delivered to passengers who order their tickets online or at the counters, and it is sent to the passengers’ mobile phones. At the station, the codes are scanned, and the information is updated and confirmed against the database. To make passenger commutes easier and safer, the system uses QR code-enabled tickets on handheld devices and mobile phones at stations and aboard trains.
  • Green Energy: As a prominent user of energy resources, Indian Railways need to identify cost-effective energy system choices with the most negligible environmental impact. Railways have proposed to use its unused vacant railway land to build land-based solar plants on vacant and unused land parcels and along railway tracks. Railways are trying to become the world’s largest Green Railways and to become a ‘net zero carbon emitter’ by 2030. Railways have started setting up solar plants in various locations and have been a pioneer in green energy acquisition. It has begun energy acquisition from various solar projects and has already commissioned additional projects on various Indian Railways stations and buildings.
    1. Artificial Intelligence: Railways are making use of artificial intelligence in a variety of ways. Customer experience, process optimisation, and asset upkeep are examples of how Artificial Intelligence technologies and techniques can help. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) can aid in route optimisation, real-time train movement monitoring, crew development, optimising rail freight pricing, and boosting logistics chain integration. Railways strive to increase operational efficiency across its whole system by leveraging artificial intelligence and data analytics.
    2. Biometric Token System: The Biometric Token Method (BTS) is a system in which passengers travelling in the general carriage, where seats are not allocated, are handed a token around three hours before the train’s departure. The data is generally used to analyse crowd patterns and the number of individuals who utilise trains. The Western and Central Railways zones have inaugurated the Biometric Token System (BTS), which aims to simplify the procedure of boarding unreserved coaches.
    3. Driverless Train Operations: Driverless trains, also known as autonomous trains, run without human involvement and are monitored from a control station. The Driverless Train Operation (DTO) can increase train flexibility while decreasing human interventions and errors. It also contributes to an increase in the availability of coaches for service. The DTO service was installed on the Magenta Line in 2020, bringing the Delhi Metro into the elite league of the world’s 7% Metros that operate fully automated metro networks. In addition, DTO was recently introduced on Delhi Metro’s 59-kilometre-long Pink Line (Majlis Park to Shiv Vihar).
  • Head-on Generation (HOG) System: This method is available in End On Generation trains with power cars equipped with DG sets at both ends. The system is thought to provide coaches with a cost-effective, dependable, and energy-efficient power supply system. Implementing the HOG system in LHB coaches results in significant savings in diesel fuel consumption of power vehicles. In addition, railways have implemented an energy-efficient power supply system in which electricity is drawn from Over Head Equipment (OHE) via converters installed in electric locomotives (WAP-7/WAP-5) for coach AC, lighting, and fans, among other things. This saves money on electricity use as well.
    1. LiDAR Technology: LiDAR is a light detection and remote sensing technique that measures distances to a target by using light in the form of a pulsed laser. The ground survey is essential for any linear infrastructure project since it offers precise details about the areas surrounding the alignment. For its projects, National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited is using Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technology, which offers full ground features and data. Furthermore, NHSRCL has been tasked with preparing detailed project reports for seven (7) high-speed rail corridors, and the LiDAR survey technique will be employed for ground surveys in all of them.
  • Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS): OMRS monitors the health of each piece of rolling stock and detects faulty bearings and wheels. A real-time alarm is generated to allow corrective action before the rolling stock’s line failure. The Indian Railways is expanding the use of these maintenance technologies to achieve predictive maintenance. Indian Railways has adopted OMRS, comprising the following subsystems: Before reaching the state of the hot box, the Acoustic Bearing Detector (ABD)/ Bearing Acoustic Monitor (RailBAM) provides an early warning on any faults in the bearing box. The Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD)/Wheel Condition Monitor (WCM) device measures wheel impacts on tracks to assess the flat surface of Rolling Stock wheels. The wheel impacts are measured using an accelerometer device in this system. The PhotoTAG system employs a visual (photographic) identifying technology for vehicle identification.

 

Few Other landmark Innovations

 

  • Virtual & Augmented Reality: Using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to study across many technology platforms that overlay data and graphics on the physical world adds a new dimension to trains. The interactive presentations of AR/VR and allied technologies disturb the order to acquire, create, store, and make the most effective use of data. For example, augmented reality is now being used in India, where new software allows travellers to book their tickets while examining the coach and seats, as well as their excellent minds and comfort.
    • Connected Mobility: E-mobility technologies are already transforming India’s transportation network. Railways are making it easy for customers to travel by metro and train. The primary purpose is to keep connected and up to date with their life, as well as to make travelling easier for travellers and to plan their excursions from door to door. People can connect their lives and go from one location to another using a single standard solution or standard mobility card. 
  • 3-D Printing: This technology is derived from additive manufacturing, and the level of 3D printing has significantly increased in recent years. As a result, the training industry is increasingly resorting to 3D printing. The technology will lower their production by up to 95%. This technology aids in the visualisation of designs before manufacture. Also, some of the spare parts necessary are no longer manufactured, and because the batch size is small, it makes no economic sense to request that they be manufactured. As a result, 3D printing can play an essential role in producing spare parts. More and more companies in the railway industry are using 3D printing technology in their manufacturing and maintenance activities, potentially transforming the railway industry.
  • Drones: Drones can be used to monitor the progress of a project’s construction and development. A drone is a flying robot that can be controlled remotely using software-controlled flight plans incorporated into its system and GPS. Drones use cutting-edge technology such as infrared cameras, GPS, and lasers. It will also be controlled by a remote ground control system (GSC), among other things. These drones can also be utilised for various railway activities, such as track and infrastructure maintenance. Drones are currently being used in India to monitor railway construction, assist in crowd management, and oversee maintenance work across its zone. It is also used to assess the readiness of non-interlocking (NI) works, manage crowds at fairs, identify scrap, and conduct aerial surveys of station yards.
  • Cyber Security: Cyber security depends entirely on consulting, with agencies and businesses receiving standard-based cyber security services. The railway sector is urged to digitise and transition from electromechanical to digital IP-enabled technology. Cyber-security can be used to safeguard railway data systems from being hacked and to prevent their vulnerability. This means that railway communication systems are being strengthened in terms of security, and new technology and process measures are being deployed. Cyber security becomes an essential component as the railway industry implements new technologies. It demands the railway community be open to new Cyber security measures. Such approaches are now being studied in India’s railways and metro sectors.
  • Geographic Information Systems: A geographic information system (GIS) is a system that is used to design and display various sorts of geographic data. GIS is used to map numbers and densities, find what is within and nearby, and map change. Its accuracy is also affected by the data source. Digitisation is the most popular way of creation. Railway operations encompass a large geographical area. All rail assets can be mapped to create the Indian Railways GIS Portal.
  • Green Transportation: Global trends are gradually shifting toward greener modes of transportation, which impacts the railway business. These diverse trains are now being developed worldwide, and they include three essential components: hydrogen fuel cells in trains, engines, and liquidised gas. India Railways uses approximately 3 billion litres of fuel every year. Natural gas will replace a small portion of that, and increasing electrification is also a goal of the Indian Railways. This investment will aid in developing zero-emission, ultra-efficient, and cost-effective alternatives to trains.
  • High-Speed Rail: This technology allows trains to travel much faster than current rail traffic by utilising an integrated system with specialist rolling stock and dedicated tracks. People would travel to distant destinations in less time, and the high-speed train will travel at an average speed of 320 kilometres per hour. NHSRCL is working on a high-speed railway corridor project that will span 508.17 kilometres. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR line will cross two states, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and one union territory, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Further developments, such as semi-high-speed corridors, are also being made.

 

Conclusion

In response to the transportation sector’s megatrends, the Ministry of Railways’ National Rail Plan (NRP) strives to provide long-term perspective planning for expanding the national Railway Network. Vision 2024 has been launched as part of the National Rail Plan to accelerate the implementation of specific critical projects by 2024 to develop capacity infrastructure, increase rail freight share ahead of demand, and develop capacity by 2030 that will cater to growing demand up to 2050. This includes 100% electrification, new lines along high-density networks, increasing speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, increasing speed to 130 kmph on all other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes, and eliminating all level crossings on all GQ/GD routes. When wholly implemented, this National Rail Plan will gradually shift Indian Railway’s freight model share from 27% to 45%. 

Innovative mobility technologies and intelligent solutions are transforming India’s transportation ecology in metropolises as well as tier 1 and tier 2 towns. Fortunately, this also addresses significant infrastructural issues for commuters, who face crowded, cumbersome, inefficient, and unsafe situations.

 

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